Schouten Shares Her Passion

Phillipian: What are the strengths of our Theater Department as it is now? Alison Schouten: Andover’s Theater Department provides students interested in theater with fantastic opportunities. The faculty are all well-versed in the field [of theater.] Students have incredible visions for projects as well as the will and talent to put these projects together. Phillipian: In what area do you think the Department needs improvement? AS: I think that, as of now, it can be intimidating to try and get involved in theater at PA. It is wonderful that we have so much talent on campus, but I, for one, was both nervous and confused about auditioning for plays all through my freshman year. It was unclear to me which plays were open to me to try out for, and often I would end up not trying out for plays because I didn’t feel qualified. I hope that next year we can make it clear to new and old students alike that theater at Andover is not just composed of a small “clique” and that it is open to all students. Students should feel as comfortable trying out for a play as they would for a varsity sport or volunteering to write for a student publication. The Department is always looking for actors, directors, stage managers, designers, and enthusiastic participants on any level, but many students feel intimidated by the audition or application process. Phillipian: What are your hopes for the future of the Andover Theater Department? AS: In the future, I would like to see more student-written plays come to fruition on a stage. I’d also love to see the Theater Department use more venues for performances. Personally, I’ve always wanted to see what someone could do using the football stadium as a stage. Phillipian: How do you expect you will use your previous experience in the theater to maintain the quality of our productions at PA? AS: If my theater experience at PA has given me anything to pass on to other students as a producer, it is the appreciation and enthusiasm I have developed for the entire process of putting on a production. Before coming to PA, I had been involved in acting alone. At PA, I have gotten to design and stage manage, take theater as a course, and work closely with amazing students and faculty. I am excited and passionate about theater. Also, if this can be counted as “experience,” I have had plenty of practice not being cast in plays, and will be happy to talk with frustrated students about how to be involved in theater even if not in the spotlight in Tang. Phillipian: What is your opinion on recent budget cuts that cancelled the school’s funding for the Scotland dance trip? AS: It saddens me to think that this year’s trip to Scotland may be the last. Unfortunately, the budget cut means that the Scotland show probably cannot be reinstalled without all of the other programs as well. While the Theater Department should try to work to raise money, it is likely that we will have to wait the three years for the trip to return. In the mean time, the Department should encourage students to write letters to the Trustees and faculty expressing their hopes that the trip will continue at some point. Phillipian: How do you feel about Matt London’s revised structure for the Theater Department, one that puts more emphasis on small productions and less on larger, more costly Drama Labs? AS: Matt’s proposal does not mean that larger student-directed productions will not run at PA. The proposal simply allows for more flexibility of funds, venues, and number of performances. For example, this winter, three Drama Lab-length productions went up in Tang. These were all excellent shows, and certainly deserved more than one performance each. The new structure of the Department will allow more than one major student-directed production each term, or, when only one show deems worthy of multiple performance opportunities, then only one major production will be funded, as the current structure details.